Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 18: Bath of Gold

(listen to today's theme)
Currently leeching from the free wi-fi of Starbucks, I realize how close to the end of this trip I am. So many landscapes, so many peoples, so many skies. And I mention skies very consciously, because the quality of the light in each part of the country seems to be different. Watch a Pixar movie, for example: the sky will be the color blue of the California sky; while the one I left behind in Providence seemed to be more subdued, mild.

The colors of California are bright and saturated. Everything is very alive in the Golden State, except for rust –Newport is very thankful about this.

The day started in my friend's beautiful suburban neighborhood, where the streets are names after trees that were not there. Complete peace. I had to joing Jim_B in San Fernando Valley, to meet Enrique, a fellow Spaniard and globetrotter, so I put up with 405 traffic. Bleh.

Enrique (Mr. MB Motors) moved out of Spain –for financial reasons– in 1961 and, after a short stay in Brazil and realizing how little their money was worth, moved on to South Africa, where he would work in several shops for the next 16 years. In 1984 he moved to the US and soon started his own shop, where he currently works. He loves what he does, and could very well retire in complete comfort. However, his profession as become his life, as I hope mine to be, and does it out of sheer pleasure. He has nothing to lose, so he dedicated himself to provide the best, most honest service he could possibly give, out of pure kindness, not hunger for money. He is a truly admirable figure I (now) look up to.

At this point I have realized how much of a hassle it is to drive amongst aggressive Californians with a trailer that limits one's visibility, so I decided to unhook it and leave it at my friend's driveway back in Santa Monica.

Most of the day I spent in Malibu, being a jackass and cruising slowly ion Highway One, then flooring the throttle as soon as a hill comes up, feeling one with the car, enjoying such bliss, such peace, that I almost forgot I was driving, or what I was driving. At that point everything I understood was the sheer joy of motion, and its most perceptual aspects: the sound of the engine (a throaty hum), ahead of me; the air circulating through the car, brushing my forearms; the sun playing with the hood star.

Then, I stopped at Zuma Beach. I thought of running into the ocean like I had done in Florida, but something changed. I had stopped. I really did not like the thought of getting out of the car, despite having one of California's most beautiful beaches in front of me. I wanted more of Newport, I wanted more of this Communion with Motion. So I headed back to Santa Monica. My gosh, I am an addict now.

Halfway to the city I get a phone call. "My parents got a call from the neighbor, they say there is a U-Haul or something in the driveway. Do you know anything about this?". Whoops. I rather hurry before they think it is a nuclear artifact and call the police, or a tow company.

Once in Santa Monica, I sat down to reflect. My friend's family is in Rhode Island for his graduation ceremony; my other friend is in Georgia; my idol, Peter Hannan, was in a New York; and my fellow comic strip artist in Orange County did not answer the phone. Everybody I knew was away!

I had already visited the Mercedes Classic Center, and if I did it again, I'd like to be with fellow MB fans. So, again, and much like in Arizona, I sped up the trip and resolved to drive up scenic Highway 1.

Today's entry is named after the hills after Lompoc, a sight worthy to mention. It was sunset, so the hills (smooth as the bodies of sleeping goddesses, laying, colossal, next to the road) were bathed in a golden haze, as if all the fireflies in the world had decided to sneeze at the same time. The brightness of all was so intense I could not manage to take a decent picture of it, so, dear members, I leave it up to you to visit this place and check it for yourselves. Now I know why they call it the Golden State, my own, very personal El Dorado.

Much to my disadvantage, overnight parking was forbidden in all seaside stops. Not only that, Highway 1 was closed about 26 miles past Hearst Castle. Luckily, I found the San Simeon National Park, where I parked as effortlessly and disdainfully as the Dukes of Hazzard. Just across three parking spots, that would be my home for the night.

Before going to bed, I stared up. And, upon this magnificent, humbling sight, I laid on top of Newport and kept looking up. The sky was clear, sprinkles with such starry beauty, it seemed as if, before going to bed, God himself had stroked the fibers in his toothbrush all over the heavens.

Shortly after, I joined the night.

Santa Monica rest.

Welcome to the genuine Los Angeles experience! Sit back and relax!

There is no possible way I can be suddle with this.

How many Spaniards can you count?

Heading back to the Ocean; traffic is better now.

Occasionally, your mind will be blow by local beauty –without notice.

Isn't this screaming CALIFORNIA?

Old Art Deco theater in Wilshire Boulevard.

It's beautiful and refreshing, but I AM NOT DRIVING!

Down the hill, heading towards Malibu for the second time.

Lots of crops, and bright colors.

There's a bright golden haze in the meadow...

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